You can thank Politico for pointing that one out last week. Under Florida’s current system, Politico reports that staff shortages have led to about 17 percent of mental health records being entered late into a state database used to do gun background checks, which is problematic because this could lead to someone with a disqualifying mental health issue actually getting a gun, according the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
FDLE already plans to request $94,880 to fund a pilot program with the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts office, but Scott wants them to increase the request to $1 million to fund up to a dozen pilot programs. The money would help fund an additional position to process mental health records. Clerks offices are the local officials charged with processing the mental health records.
“I ask that you immediately begin working with state attorney’s offices and clerks of court to identify those counties and circuits that would most benefit from these pilot programs to improve submissions of these critical records to FDLE or the Mental Health Competency repository,” read Scott’s letter to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
Along with Scott, key lawmakers and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — who is running for governor — were not aware of the background check lapses, which have been occurring since at least 2014, until asked by POLITICO Florida last week. Putnam said he would work “with the Clerks of Court and law enforcement to strengthen the process and improve the safeguards.”
Over the past five years, state clerk's budgets have reportedly been reduced by more than $60 million.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who'll be fending off Scott to keep his seat in Congress, has already taken up the issue, too.
In a letter to DOJ asking them to approve FDLE's original grant request, Nelson writes, "As you know, Florida has suffered multiple mass shootings in the past two years. Properly maintaining these databases is necessary to save lives and help ensure guns stay out of the hands of those who might do harm to others."
And by the way, nice catch last week, Politico.
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